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With the rise in mobile-first and mobile-only consumers, what happens to the second screen?


By Jeremy Ozen

Watch any live broadcast – a sporting event, American Idol, Miss America – and you will notice something: the incorporation of mobile interaction via social media channels.

Even pre-recorded television has gotten in on the act. Viewers are encouraged to use Twitter to vote for their favorites, or Shazam commercials for supplemental information.

Screen savour
So powerful is the allure of the second screen that Twitter’s IPO preparations even focused on the platform being the “social soundtrack to TV.”

At this point, the second screen has become so ubiquitous that I hardly know anyone who does not have a device in hand while watching television.

Personally, I am hardly home in front of the TV these days. I am not complaining – my schedule is familiar to anyone who has ever helped found a startup – but between time spent in the office and time spent on the road, the idea that my television is my “first screen” is a bit silly.

For me, my device is my first screen, for some others, a mobile device might be the only screen.

So what does this mean for advertisers looking to reach my peers and I? Does the idea of cross-screen media plans disappear?  I do not think so. We just need to adjust our two-screen strategy to cater towards those who are mobile-centric.

Location, location, location
With a growing portion of the population falling into the mobile-first category, advertisers can clearly buy mobile advertising to reach this audience.

However, it is important for brands to still have a way to reach these consumers with large-format video in addition to mobile application or Web banners. But if these consumers are not in front of their televisions, how do we deliver that content?

Location-based video – those screens in offices, gyms, gas stations and malls – provide us with a platform to serve this large-format video to the mobile-first audience.

But if we are in a multi-screen advertising world, should advertisers not take their two-screen approach from the living room and apply it to the real world?

Imagine how powerful it would be for brands to target their audiences on mobile in combination with location-based video.

Say you were trying to reach shoppers for the holidays and serving ads to mobile users within a certain geographic area on contextually relevant apps/sites.

On its own, that is a mobile-only, one-screen approach. But when that user enters the mall, you could trigger the location-based screens there to display complementary media to what you are running on mobile. Boom: a second-screen campaign reaching a mobile-first audience.

Or, what if you were promoting a new breakfast product to consumers who put convenience first? Mobile might be one of your tactics, given how tethered to smartphones high-achieving urbanites are.

Would it not make sense to also reach that same mobile audience when they enter their gyms and office buildings as well?

This mobile-first audience is by definition not sitting at home watching TV.  Instead, they are out and about: consumers on the go.

For this audience, we can take the data they generate while mobile and use it to immediately customize the collective experience – not on television, where it is difficult, if not impossible, to make real-time changes of this sort – but rather on location-based video screens reaching those same consumers while on the go.

UNTIL NOW, the idea of the second screen has been a platform for consumers to reach out – Tweet at us! Shazam this commercial!

That is fine when TV is your first screen. But for mobile-first and mobile-only audiences, this approach does not make as much sense.

However, just because the audience steps out of their living rooms does not mean advertisers should give up on second-screen initiatives  

We can, and should, still execute cross-platform campaigns. The difference now is that the two screens are both location-based.

Jeremy Ozen is cofounder of Vistar Media, New York. Reach him at [email protected]